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Social media.
Social media.

Social media manager: what it means?

Social media managers are a new breed of professionals who, in short, take care of a brand or a company’s presence on various social media platforms. While it might sound like an easy job, it is far from it. Social media is often seen as a place where people try to ‘socialise’. It’s not a serious place for many. However, it’s a major misconception. It is true that people use social media to ‘network’ — make friends, like posts, share ideas, join a community, keep in touch in friends and so on. So why target and make business decision out of such a place?

The answer is simple to convey but difficult to grasp in its entirety. Here’s it.

Social media managers need to be good psychologists

It is one reason why social media managers need to be good psychologists, or understand the human psyche so that they can leverage the maximum out of social media. In a very informal setting — I’m using ‘informal’ to denote that transactions depend on the persons involved — people are less inhibited. The cloak of anonymity and the relatively less-serious nature of consequences (unfortunately) also add to the disinhibition. In such a state, people are less conscious of their activity. It’s easy to gauge a person’s behaviour, thought process, affinities, likes, dislikes when he/she is less inhibited. Or, when a person loses their ‘filter’, there is very little discrepancy in terms of what they think and what they do. In such a state, it becomes easier to understand the true nature, aspirations, and affinities of the user.

This is a social media manager’s biggest weapon —the ability to use the window of opportunity that every user leaves, both with and without their knowledge.  It’s the ability to join the dots; the trace the digital foot prints and mapping them. This is not just a theory and can be easily implemented.

And, no, you don’t need to be a psychologist. You just need the ability to understand/visualise patterns using numbers and basic principles of psychology.

Let’s start from the basics: understand your audience.

Social media managers can easily get sucked into a battle of page views, likes and shares. It’s one of the common mistakes that new social media managers do. While these metrics are important, it would augur well for the brand to instead focus on engagement.

What is social media engagement?

Obviously it is how engaging your brand is, but much more than that. Authentic, relatable, two-way, and monitoring of posts and discussions are all part of the creating an engaging platform. It is the true measure of the success of a social media page. It’s for one simple reason — it’s easy to manufacture followers and likes, but not quality engagement and traction. What is quality engagement and traction?

It can be as simple as replying to your followers’ questions and as complicated as rolling out a campaign or a contest, keeping in mind the nature of the audience. Social media has broken the thick walls between the consumer and the service provider. Now, consumers can, in a click of a button, approach service providers and voice their concerns.

According to this Sprout Social study, social media is customers’ most-preferred mode of communication channel with any brand. It was also revealed that customers expect a response to their queries from the brand in less than 4 hours.

Another example of organic engagement is making the platform a credible one to provide an authentic two-way communication channel. Platforms like Quora and Reddit provide higher engagement as opposed to other platforms because of the high-quality and moderated content that people believe adds value or addresses their problems. There is sense of purpose and a definite audience in mind for every post.

Monitoring of posts is equally important. Maintaining the hygiene of the page, cleaning up unwanted or spam content, imposing the rules of engagement can help in maintaining the quality of discussion and organising them. It greatly helps in improving loyalty and addressing issues of the consumers. Let me be amply clear: it’s not done in the spirit of discriminating but in the interest of your audience.

What skills should social media managers have?

I’m assuming you’ve decided to pursue a job that will involve a lot of social media usage. So, before we go ahead, a couple of pointers.

  1. Learning social media management software is important, but secondary. I’m repeating it — your ability to find patterns using numbers and understanding the psyche of your audience is the most important skills.
  2. Don’t work hard; work smart. Scrolling aimlessly through millions of posts never helps. Instead, start with the traditional pen and paper method. Formulate a plan, understand the audience and have an execution strategy.

Now, let’s go to the specifics. Your first focus should be to understand your audience. Try to answer the following questions before taking to plunge and ‘actioning’ your plans.

  1. What does my brand stand for?
  2. What are the aspirations and age groups of my audience?
  3. What are my audience’s interests?
  4. More, importantly, what do they don’t like?
  5. What kind of posts are working and not working?
  6. What time of the day are my users usually active?
  7. Where do most of my users come from?
  8. How can I create 5 personas that reflect the kind of audience I have?

Copywriting — a key skill for social media managers

Now, to the skills you need to hone, learn or acquire. The most important skill is to learn to write for the web. It might sound simple, but it’s not. Writing for social media requires rigorous fact-checking, sound grammar and timing. One word can make or break a message. And, always remember, what goes online stays online, even if you delete a post. All three things play a crucial role in helping you achieve the intended results. Plugins like grammarly can help you post grammar error-free content. For fact-checking of content, confirm using multiple, credible sources before posting. Do an independent verification before posting. DO NOT POST FAKE CONTENT. Nothing can hit your credibility more than posting of fake, irrelevant and dated content. Here’s a free course from udemy that’s a good place to start if you want to hone your copywriting skills.  It focuses on three key elements to effecting writing — simplicity, clarity and elegance.

Should social media managers know graphic designing?

In short – yes. Because images work better and is sharable too. There are multiple to studies to prove that tweets with an attached image perform better than those without one. Not just any image, but ones that really add value, intrigue and supplement the main content. So, graphic designers are of great importance if you intend to create quality and impactful posts. 

Here’s one of the top online courses on web design on udemy. It takes you through the three main pillars of graphic designing — Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. The course claims it is for “anyone who is interested in becoming a graphic designer, and especially geared towards total beginners.”

Social media managers need to know to work with spreadsheets

Everybody knows MS Excel but a very few know how powerful the software is. Right from performing a simple arithmetic operation to scraping data from website, the Excel can do it all. For a social media manager, the Excel is an invaluable tool to audit performance and create content calendar. Almost all of the social media platforms allow users to download analytics data which can be used to audit performance of the posts. It, therefore, is an indispensible tool to a social media manager.  All of the insight reports can be downloaded in an .xls format, and then manipulated to identify patterns.

Basics of cyberpsychology

Why do people react the way they do? What makes people share posts and ‘like’ them? What effect does an emoji have? What effect do colours have on browsing pattern? How and when do ‘followers’ become loyalists? Why puppy and kitten videos rule the Internet? Why are cyberbullies in plenty? How peers affect our activities on social media? Why selfies are a rage? All these questions need to be understood from the perspective of psychology and implemented or addressed using technology. It is the ability to connect the two — from understanding the theory of psychological principles to implementing it using technology after understanding the audience.

Be flexible, sensitive to audience’s needs

A social media manager has to imagine herself/himself be the first point of contact of the brand. Any feedback — good or bad — hits the social media manager first. It’s important to understand that reactions are extreme for negative feedback, and media managers need to carefully evaluate the feedback coming to them from the consumers. The idea is not to look at what people are saying, instead look at why they’re saying it. It helps you identify the core of the problem and evaluate if any action needs to be taken from your end.

And, another important aspect is that social media is prone to a fluctuating audience that doesn’t shy away from voicing its concerns. It, therefore, becomes the prerogative of the social media manager to sense these changes to report to the management whenever the situation warrants it. The first reactions are also often recorded on social media. So, a keen manager will pick it up quickly and evaluate her/his options before any issue snowballs into a level where it becomes unmanageable.  Flexibility is another key trait that a social media manager must inculcate. The ability to sense the mood of the audience and change course, and receive criticism and make course corrections are key factors that decide the social media growth of a brand.

A job of a social media manager is demanding and very rewarding, given the change you can make in the lives of a number of people. It’s also a huge responsibility as you are the first point of contact. So good or bad, the credit goes to those handling the social media accounts of a brand. What I’ve said thus far is a basic overview of the job and what it entails. Given that almost all of the companies have started to embrace social media, and some haven’t realised the potential of it. The ones that channelise their focus on the platform are sure to reap a lot of gains. The feedback is immediate, the manager has analytics/data on daily basis and every measure can be quantified.

What’s your take on the job? Fire in your views in the comments section below.

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